Knowledge Building and Motivations in Wikipedia: Participation as "Ba"

Sheizaf Rafaeli, Tsahi Hayat, Yaron Ariel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has been one of the prominent phenomena in the emergent of online user-generated content. This study explores Wikipedians' (Wikipedia users) perceptions of Wikipedia knowledge, their sense of community and motivations for participating in Wikipedia. We suggest utilizing the constructivist approach to knowledge, as a theoretical framework for understanding the co-building of knowledge in Wikipedia. Adapting the organizational knowledge creation model, as proposed by Nonaka and Takeuchi, for examining Wikipedia we emphasize the importance of the context, using a concept named Ba. We suggest that key factors of knowledge building are the users' sense of community and processes of interactivity that are enabled by Wikipedia. A central tenet of wiki community is users' motivation to contribute. In a study exploring the success of online community, Sangwan suggested that the "Uses and Gratifications" framework be applied, and identifies three key motivators for virtual community use: Functional, Emotive and Contextual. Following these observations, we study Wikipedians' motivations, thus highlighting the users' cognitive and integrative gratifications. To survey Wikipedians on these aspects, we posted a link to an online web questionnaire in the "Community Portal" of the English and Hebrew language Wikipedias. We provide some preliminary cross-cultural survey data.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAt the Interface
Subtitle of host publicationProbing the Boundaries
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2009

Publication series

NameAt the Interface: Probing the Boundaries
ISSN (Print)1570-7113

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2009 Brill. All rights reserved.


  • Wikipedia
  • Wikipedians
  • ba
  • knowledge building community
  • motivations
  • sense of community
  • uses and gratifications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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